The First Steps to Writing Nonfiction

There’s a lot riding on the first chapter of your nonfiction narrative. You want it to snap with energy, life and intrigue and you want to hook readers right from the start. To do that you need to know your story and characters very well. And it helps to know how the piece will end.

A Delayed Start Has Advantages

design-bannerThere’s a lot to be said for NOT starting at the beginning. Jump in at whatever point you’re most familiar with because you can back up later to write the beginning. There are lots of advantages to this. You’ll get rolling and when you come return to the beginning you’ll have a clearer sense of your characters. You’ll know what needs to be set up for the continuum and conclusion. And, perhaps best of all, you won’t face a major rewrite of chapter one because it doesn’t serve the story that emerged as you wrote the narrative.

Get Inspired & Focused

When you’re ready to write that beginning some planning and inspiration might be needed. Try typing the opening paragraphs of a few of your favourite books, preferably ones within your project’s genre. There’s lots to learn from the masters.

Try mind mapping. Put a few words that summarize the narrative premise in the center of a blank sheet. Now let the ideas flow around this, with quick notes to circle around the premise, capturing your ideas for the set up.

Is there a scene you can include in the first page or two to give it life? What do you want the scene to achieve? Will it introduce the characters and perhaps at the central conflict?

Look for more on Great Beginnings in some blogs to come!